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War veteran is unsung hero

PUBLISHED: 17:04 18 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:45 03 March 2010

WAR veteran Walter Thompson has dedicated his life to helping Royal Navy veterans and the community.

Now, at the grand age of 91, Mr Thompson's many achievements have been recognised in an Unsung Heroes Award.

WAR veteran Walter Thompson has dedicated his life to helping Royal Navy veterans and the community.

Now, at the grand age of 91, Mr Thompson's many achievements have been recognised in an Unsung Heroes Award.

With a tear in his eye, Mr Thompson accepted the award from mayor Richard Risebrow, in a surprise ceremony on Wednesday evening at Ipswich Conservative Club in Kirby Street.

Mr Thompson who lives in Lacey Street said: "I was shocked and bewildered – I never knew that I was coming up for the award. I am absolutely overjoyed at having been selected by the mayor. I feel over the moon."

His cousin, Peter Thompson, 65, of Thurleston Lane, Ipswich said: "£1,000 would not mean anything to Wally, but awards – they really mean something to him."

He has devoted much of the past 50 years to Royal Navy Veterans and is the last surviving founder member and vice-president of the Royal Naval Association – which was founded in 1952.

Mr Thompson, who has been awarded ten medals in his lifetime - including the British Empire Medal and the long service of good conduct medal - is also vice-chairman of the Royal British Legion, having retired in March from the post of treasurer.

As treasurer he devoted much of his time to raising the money needed to inscribe the 615 names of the Ipswich servicemen who gave their lives in the Second World War onto the cenotaph in Christchurch Park.

The RBL has now managed to raise £65,000 – roughly half the amount needed – and is hoping to raise the money and have the cenotaph completed in time for Remembrance Sunday this year.

Mr Thompson is also director of the remembrance parade and, according to cousin Peter Thompson, he intends to hold that post as long as he is able to do so.

And when Walter Thompson is not raising money for the RBL or organising the remembrance parade, he can often be found manning the phone at the RBL and even visiting elderly residents.

"He still takes round sweets to the old people," said Peter Thompson. "Many of them are 20 years younger than Wally himself."

N.The Ipswich Royal British Legion is holding a fundraising event to raise money for the Second World War memorial fund. There will be an evening with the Khaki Chums, with music from Terry Le-Travers, on 6 May at 7.30pm at The Manor Ballroom. Entrance is £5 and there will be a prize draw and a licensed bar. Tickets are available by calling 01473 747 983 and from the Corn Exchange Box Office and the Tourist Information Office.


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